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Did you know that cannabis contains specific organic chemical compounds called cannabinoids and terpenes?
The active chemicals in medical marijuana, Cannabinoids (e.g., THC and CBD) are the chemical compounds which get secreted by cannabis flowers. There are 80 different cannabinoids in marijuana, but only a handful have ever been researched before. The few that we do know about have proven to provide positive effects on the human body. Imagine what the other 70 or so holds in store for us.
Cannabinoids are the compounds in cannabis that’s responsible for providing the medicinal benefits and positive physical effects which cannabis is well known for. Symptom relief is a big one. Cannabinoids have proven to be very effective with treating symptoms such as muscle pain, nausea, anxiety, and inflammation.
The reason why plant cannabinoids have such psychoactive and medicinal effects on the human body is because we [human beings] have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which foreign cannabinoids can interact with.
Our endocannabinoid system is mainly composed of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes which are believed to help regulate a variety of basic human functions such as appetite, mood, memory, movement, sleep, pain sensation tolerance, and reproduction. But don’t be fooled, we still have much to learn about the mysteries of the human endocannabinoid system.
Two cannabinoids you may be very familiar with are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. While THC is responsible for the “high” that most people associate with cannabis, it also has its medicinal merits. THC tends to be used to help with conditions such as pain, muscle spasticity, anxiety, nausea, decreased appetite (aka “the munchies”), glaucoma, and insomnia.
CBD (cannabidiol), the non-intoxicating component of cannabis, is known to help reduce inflammation and ease pain. It also helps with nausea, anxiety, migraines, and seizures. We know a lot, but have a lot to learn. Which is why researchers remain hard at work trying to fully understand the effectiveness of CBD and its possible medical use cases.
Terpenes are the aromatic molecules that give cannabis its distinct attributes, such as its characteristic fragrance and specific flavor. Not only can terpenes be found in cannabis, they are also found in hemp, lavender flowers, oranges, hops, pepper, and thousands of other plants.
A very cool fact to know about terpenes is that they originally served as an adaptive defense mechanism, as a means for the cannabis plant to protect itself from herbivores. Terpenes often emanate strong odors which makes for an effective deterrent against herbivores. These same scents attract predators and parasites which prey on the herbivores.
So far, over 200 different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant. Unlike other botanical species, each individual cannabis strain exhibits its own unique terpene profiles and genetics. This is why different strains of cannabis are so distinct from one another.
While there are many different kinds of terpenes found in cannabis, the most frequently occurring and noteworthy are terpinolene, myrcene, linalool, limonene, pinene, and caryophyllene. These six terpenes are most consistently found in cannabis, in levels that are significant enough to make note of.